Valedictorian Tells Her Senior Class the Truth About God in Viral Graduation Speech


Editor’s Note: Our readers responded strongly to this story when it originally ran; we’re reposting it here in case you missed it.

A valedictorian’s graduation speech is going viral after she used the opportunity to tell her senior class about the Gospel.

Lydia Owens was the valedictorian for the class of 2023 at Woodmont High School in Greenville, South Carolina. In her three-minute speech, Owens, the daughter of a pastor, spoke about how the hardships of her life led her to re-evaluate what was really important to her.

“If you place your identity in what you accomplish, and you believe that you are only good enough if you succeed, what happens when you fail?” she asked her classmates. “Placing your identity in the things of this world will disappoint you because they are only temporary.”

Owens then went on to explain how she learned this lesson in her own life when her mother died just under two years ago.

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“I had that reality check almost two years ago when my mom passed away,” she said. “When tragedy struck my life, it wasn’t my grades nor my accomplishments that helped me navigate through that loss. When everything else in my life felt uncertain, the only person that I could depend on to stay the same was Jesus.”

At the mention of Jesus, the crowd began to applaud, showing that they fully understood and appreciated the message she was trying to convey.

Owens continued by saying that the experience of losing her mother taught her that true worth and happiness are found not in worldly success, but in the fact that we are loved by God.

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“My worth and your worth is found in Jesus because He is the only one who will ever satisfy us,” she said, which once again resulted in a round of applause from the audience.

“No matter what your future holds, please remember that life is so much more than how successful you are, even if you accomplish all of your dreams or none of them at all, you are still valuable, and you are still good enough because you are made in the image of God.”

Owens’s speech went viral on social media afterward, with many applauding her for being brave and proclaiming the Gospel to her classmates, while some took heart in the fact that her speech was so well received.

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Too often we hear stereotypical and cliched graduation speeches about going out and chasing your dreams, and how the graduates have such a bright future ahead of them. But we hardly hear about the harsh realities and trials of life that we will all have to face and how we can deal with them.

That is what makes this speech so refreshing. Lydia Owens reminded her class that they will face challenges in life, and they will fail, but the anecdote to that is to remember that our value and worth come from one thing — Christ.

This graduation speech will hopefully give the graduating seniors a new outlook on life as they head off to face the future.

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Peter Partoll is a commentary writer for the Western Journal and a Research Assistant for the Catholic Herald. He earned his bachelor's degree at Hillsdale College and recently finished up his masters degree at Royal Holloway University of London. You can follow him on Twitter at @p_partoll.